March 9, 2011 / 12:11 PM / 9 years ago

Mortgage applications surge to highest in three months

A home for sale in Los Angeles, October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Applications for home mortgages jumped to the highest level in three months last week, buoyed by improvements in the job market, an industry group said on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, rose 15.5 percent in the week ended March 4.

It was the highest level since the week ended December 10 and was the biggest increase since June 11.

The MBA’s seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications climbed 17.2 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases gained 12.5 percent.

“An improving job market is beginning to pave the way for an improving housing market,” Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said in a statement.

“Additionally, mortgage interest rates remained below 5 percent for a second week, maintaining affordability for buyers and leading to an increase in refinance applications.”

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.93 percent in the week, up from 4.84 percent the week before.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Diane Craft

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